Dr. Robert Martuza’s interest throughout his career has been focused on the applications of molecular techniques to neurosurgical problems. In the 1980′s, Dr. Martuza began the first studies of the possibility that viruses could be genetically engineered to selectively replicate within and kill cancer cells while not harming normal tissue.
The first publication of this concept was in Science in 1991, and Dr. Martuza has since been recognized as the intellectual authority on this topic. This has since led to a large and developing field with multiple laboratories worldwide studying oncolytic viruses of various types for cancer therapy.
Dr. Martuza and his colleagues have focused on genetically engineered vectors derived from the common cold sore virus, Herpes Simplex Virus-1. They have taken these studies from the bench to the bedside and have completed the first Phase 1 clinical study in patients with recurrent glioblastoma, a fatal cancer of the brain.